walking forth, legless

 

walking forth,
legless,
into the theatre of my life
after 39 days immersion in a
silent Dzochen retreat

 

miriam louisa simons, Wangapeka journal - Dzogchen retreat, New Zealand, 2010

 


I recently came upon a journal written on a 6 week silent Dzogchen retreat at Wangapeka Study and Retreat Centre in Nelson, Aotearoa-New Zealand, in 2010. (The Lama had asked me to do this as part of my practice.) Other writings from this period have been posted at this unlit light blog but the scribblings in this journal haven’t been shared before. The one above, written on the last day of silence, packed a punch from which I will never recover.

This is what happens on a retreat that goes long enough, deep enough, wide enough – you get ripped in three and re-braided.

“formations”? – anything that takes shape in consciousness: a thought, a feeling, a memory, a story, a self, an other…

“universe”? – the changeless, ever-present, immeasurable, all-inclusive and inescapable THIS.

“preferred”? – by whom? by what? (there being no chooser to be found) By the universe ITself, as the miraculous and incomprehensible expression of ITself.

“why”? – make up a good story; it doesn’t matter what you conceive … all stories are formations, fluffy consolations for a mind made redundant.

(Best not to attend such retreats unless prepared for obliteration of the old concepts and fixations around self-identity and world-view.)


well-being & being well

 

Agnes Martin - Gratitude, 2001

 

There’s a mindset that runs a mythical story asserting that one’s “accomplishment” of awakening, and the attendant ease of well-being, is negated or compromised by any experience of being unwell. Beware of these myths!

Awakening is never “accomplished” or attained. It is simply a system-restore to the Natural State.

The Natural State – I call it wild wideawakeness – has no preference whatsoever for what might be being experienced by the body or the mind. It remains the essential experience, enabling and infusing all others. Its impartiality – and re-cognition of this – is what dissolves suffering and enables well-being – regardless of the passing play of one’s life.

Well-being does not depend upon being well.

It’s true that the more unshakeable one’s well-being, the more sensitive the organism becomes, bringing understanding and prompting changes that may lead to less physical and mental dysfunction. But well-being remains unaffected. Period.

I have been with frail, aged folk in heart-wrenching discomfort and pain and fully aware of the approach of their end days, who were aglow with well-being.

I have been with a close friend when she received a diagnosis that would strike terror into the heart of most people; she exuded such well-being that her surgeons and friends were at once amazed and relieved. (She has now fully recovered.)

I have been with myself during debilitating illness, pain, grief. At these times the litmus test for the extent of my freedom is a little inquiry: am I suffering?

And I have to say no; I can no longer find a solid-state ‘person’ here who could own a story about suffering.

If there is illness, no problem – I’ll seek help, I’ll take the medicine, but I won’t suffer.

Well-being is unaffected.
Well-being is the Natural State.
The Natural State is what one is.

Because the Natural State is ever-present and inescapable, accepting the entire array of experience without question, I’ve come to know it as Love. Love Divine. 

Whatever you call it – God, Divine Presence, Love, Suchness, The Great Perfection, Beloved – you are naming yourself and the entirety of your experience.

Along with everyone and everything else…

 


Painting by Agnes Martin, Gratitude, 2001. Courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London.


memo from IT to ITself

 

IT is not understood until IT is forgotten

 

IT is not understood
until IT is forgotten.

When IT is forgotten
IT can express ITself.

When IT expresses ITself
you won’t recognise IT.

If you think you recognise IT
you are mistaken.

Realising you are mistaken
about everything

 

cracks open

 &

deconstructs

 

your many-layered
me-isphere

revealing IT to ITself

perfectly.

 


“IT” in this context = reality, big R.
This post might read like a madwoman’s rant, but those who have free-fallen into Unknowing will simply smile at the play of paradox.
Such is IT’s way.


Image sourced from Facebook, where credit was not given. Please advise if it’s yours and an appropriate link will be added.


how free are you?

one haiku, twelve ways

… depending on one’s particular aversion/s.

 

How free are you?

 

tell me this my friend

how free are you, when you won’t

 

[choose your aversion/s]

 

spin with the Sufis?

kneel with the Muslims?

pray with the Mystics?

sit with the Zenners?

gaze with the Atis?

drink with the Taoists?

chant with the Bhaktis?

probe with the Jnanis?

dunk with the Baptists?

bow with the Buddhists?

dream with the Shamans?

laugh with the Skeptics?

 


tough love

Tough Love? Because most readers will find the contents of this post confronts their comfort-zone. Like happened here when I first encountered these notions. I won’t be surprised if you unfollow this blog, but I’d nonetheless love to think that you’ll take a look for yourself. For yourself. For. Yourself.

faith and hope

 

When you open your newsfeed and scroll through the week’s latest instalment of tragedy and brutality, you are observing the carnage wrought by faith and hope.

Faith and hope are two words sagely trotted out by both traditional and new age purveyors of fixes for the human condition. They feature large in the Christian Bible, and slip easily off our politicians’ tongues at times of crisis. “Only have faith!” “Defend the faith!” “Trust (have faith in) our democratic processes!” “Hope is our salvation …”

We are warned about “losing faith” or “losing hope” as though such absence will lead us to the top of a slippery slope and the inevitable descent into despair.

My teachers were strict. They demanded that every word employed be fully understood in all its implications. They would incisively question words that fed the illusion of separation, or that implied a ‘self’ solid and separate from the all-containing movement of creation. They had no time for those who counselled one to have faith, to hope, or to trust, because each of these positions betrays a desire for a self-satisfying outcome, a result that will bring relief, comfort, security or improvement in the life of the supplicant – or in the world they perceive to be faulty. They pointed out that these words, and others like time, need and want, are just more names for the illusory self, which is the root cause of all violence and suffering. They dismissed those who enthused about the merits of such attitudes with ruthless compassion: “Please come back when you want nothing but the Real.”

And I have grokked this so deeply it actually hurts my heart to hear people tell themselves they only need more faith or hope or trust (or compassion or understanding, or even time) to embody “the peace that passeth all understanding”, when it is the very abandonment of these notions that will throw them into a ‘me’-shattering, heart-melting intimacy with Life. An intimacy that makes future outcomes irrelevant, for the future is seen to be as illusory as the present (a dreaming streaming of perceptions, imagination, and ceaseless commentary); an intimacy that brings the mind unconditional peace and rest.

Let’s get the crucial questions lined up and check them out for ourselves:

Where can the one who needs to have faith (in any ideology) and hope (in any imagined outcome) be found? Be very precise. Where is the world to be found? Again – precision please. Where are disharmony, violence and tragedy to be found?

If you suggest they are all in the mind, tell me, where is one’s mind to be found?

If you can locate any of these, or anything else, outside of your fundamental awareness, you’ll be the first in the entire history of humanity to do so. And you’ll be wrong, because no matter where you stick the pin, it will still be a gesture occurring exclusively in the awareness that you are.

Gertrude Stein put it pithily: “There is no there there.”

If there is no place or time, or me or them, apart from the awareing of them, what does that do to ‘our relationship’ with the streaming shimmering dance we call world? Does it even make sense to speak of ‘relationship’ (which again implies separation), or is there only the streaming shimmering dance, dancing?

What are the implications of that mindshift?

Where is the brutality? The tragedy? The heroism? The suffering? It is nowhere but here, and it is all ours; it is all us – busily entertaining robotic thoughts and believing them to be real.

On the other side of faith and hope there’s a spaciousness that knows exactly how to respond to anything it meets with intense appropriateness. It’s a movement without a centre – without a trace of conditioning, without the burden of memory. We have all experienced it.

Let us rest in that spacious stillness, alert and awake, and see what Life will do with us. It might be something shocking, something we’d never imagine for ourselves. That will be a good indication of its authenticity.

I’ll meet you there.
 


 

In a similar vein, something I wrote in 2009 on ‘this unlit light’ blog:

the universe arises in your light

 


 

I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men’s hands
even at the height of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound.

– Hafiz

 


nothin’ left to lose …

I’ve had an encounter with an ear worm. You know, those catchy tunes that keep playing in your mind ad nauseam.

It’s amazing the lengths tic-toc thinking will go to, to ensure some activity is going on. I’ve found the only effective antidote to be a kind of meditation where you just plonk yourself down (or not) and cast attention in the worm’s direction without any intention to “stop” it. Brain worms loathe the light of attention.

This worm was fun (for a while), as my mind played with the lyrics. I jotted a couple down before returning the wriggler to sender, from whence it has failed to return. Maybe it’s back in Janis’s pocket…

 

Janis Joplin, 1970

“Freedom’s just another word
for nothin’ left to lose.”*

Love is just another word
for when you disappear.

 

Peace is just another word
for right and wrong conjoined.

 

Heaven‘s just another word
for no one left to choose.

 

More stanzas on the nondual theme, anyone?

 

[Later – they just keep coming… ]

 

Me is just another word
for God knowing Itself.

 

Joy is just another word
for thankfulness enthused.

 

Praise is just another word
for wonderment expressed.

 

God is just another word
for What’s beyond all words.

. . .


* Lyrics from Me and Bobby McGee, by Kris Kristofferson


Image: Janis Joplin, whose version of this song was her only number one hit. It was included in the album Pearl, 1970. Source: Wikimedia Commons


 

who are you when you aren’t there?

Drawing by Michael Leunig

who are you

when you’re not constantly

re-minding yourself

on social media?

 

when you’re not sharing

your selfies, your mundane and mediocre

daily details?

 

when you’re not broadcasting

your insights, your threadbare, faded

knowledge?

 

what do you see

when you’re not there

telling yourself the old stories

(identify – label – judge)?

 

when there’s no observer

standing separate from

texture, color, energy?

 

when time and space

disappear, taking out your memorybank (poof!)

leaving . . . . . . . . . what?

 

who are you in that apocalyptic instant

when you realise that

every hard-earned conviction you hold

concerning

awakening

enlightenment

salvation

freedom

is merely an empty concept?

 

who are you when you aren’t there?

 


 

[conceptual answers not permitted; keep emptying!]

 


Drawing by Michael Leunig – it also accompanies this post from the early days of ‘the echoes’:

sitting in this leaky boat called ‘me’